Statistics with regard to drunk-driving accidents are frightening. It’s one of the largest causes of injuries and fatalities on the road. If you get hit by a drunk driver, you have certain rights you need to make sure you exercise. Use this guide about drunk driving and your personal rights to prepare you in case such a situation occurs.
Drunk Driving Statistics
Unfortunately, drunk driving is common. It’s unrealistic to assume you’ll never be the victim of a drunk-driving accident.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, one person dies every 51 minutes as the result of a drunk-driving accident. That’s 28 people every single day; these incidents comprise nearly one-third of all traffic-related deaths in the U.S. In addition, more than 7,250 injuries can be attributed to alcohol-related crashes.
Unfortunately, the drunk driver is much more likely to walk away from the incident, according to studies. The rate of deaths for non-drinkers in such crashes is one in six compared to one in nine for the drinkers who caused them.
You can do some research to find the crash statistics for your state, since it varies depending on th population and laws of each. Some states have a higher risk for drunk driving than others.
For example, according to a New York law office, there are 8,368 drunk-driving accidents, 387 resulting deaths, and 6,019 injuries each year in New York alone. If you live in that state, your risks for being involved in such an event are high.
Recognizing a Drunk Driver and Avoiding the Crash
Recognizing the signs of a drunk driver can help you avoid a crash and make the roads safer for all travelers. It’s more common to see a drunk driver at night, but you can observe them during the day as well.
Any time you’re on the road, here are some of the signs to watch for:
- Making illegal turns
- Driving in the wrong lane
- Unsafe or erratic lane changes
- Weaving in and out of the lane
- Driving off the road and back on again
- Judgment problems
- Speed and braking difficulties
- Headlights are off
If you notice any of these warning signs in another vehicle, pull to the side of the road to put yourself out of harm’s way, and call the highway patrol to report it.
Acting Responsibly at the Scene
If you’re the unfortunate victim of an accident, what you do at the scene of the event will have a substantial impact on your recovery and potential compensation. It will be a stressful time, but if you keep your head and remember your rights, you’ll come out all right in the end.
- Call the Police
Even if the accident was minor, always call the cops. Driving drunk is illegal in every state, and the person who likely caused it should be held responsible. The police will take a detailed report of the incident, which can be used to support any future lawsuits and insurance claims you might wish to initiate.
You might also make your own record of names, events, and other details while everything is fresh in your mind. This will be crucial information, even evidence, to strengthen your claim for compensation later.
- Get Medical Attention
Seeing a medical professional after a collision is also crucial, even if you don’t notice any injuries initially. You might be suffering from whiplash or broken bones that are not obvious at first. A medical professional will document any injuries that can support a personal injury case later.
- Understand Responsibility
You are not at fault in a drunk driving case. The intoxicated driver will not only face criminal charges for driving under the influence, but he or she will also likely be held responsible for damages and injuries relating to the victim’s vehicle.
You will be the victim in both criminal and civil claims. In many cases, you can sue for punitive damages involving your vehicle as well as to your person, in order to cover repair costs.
- Sue for Personal Injury Compensation
If the drunk driver does not take responsibility for his or her actions, you can and should sue for compensation. In some cases, you might also be able to sue the employer of the driver of a commercial vehicle, the institution that provided the liquor, or hosts of a party where alcohol was served to guests under 21.
If you win your personal injury lawsuit, you should obtain money to cover your medical expenses, rehabilitation, and lost wages. If the injury is life-long, you’ll also be eligible for compensation for your altered lifestyle.
This won’t make you instantly well again, but it can help you to cover medical expenses and get the care you need.
- Wrongful Death Suits
If a family member was killed in a drunk-driving accident, the surviving family members can initiate a wrongful death lawsuit on that person’s behalf. Any funds recovered can help pay for funeral costs and lost wages that might otherwise devastate the family’s resources.
It’s critical to contact an attorney as soon as possible after the accident. Injuries, wrongful deaths, and punitive damages can be upsetting, and proper compensation and legal aid can help you bear the burden and get through a difficult time.